At this point in the pandemic, you may have onboarded at least one new employee virtually. However, no matter how many exclamation points you use in a welcome email or how quickly the paperwork gets signed, you still feel like the process falls flat. What’s missing?
Onboarding remote employees can often feel cold and lack the personal touch that in-person onboarding brings if you don’t insert a little homegrown magic into the process. Handshakes and introductions with employees turn into emails; setting up a desk and putting a fun post-it note on the chair as a welcome becomes simply powering up a computer quietly at home.
The success of your employees can rely heavily on this first step. The onboarding process is so important that it can have long term effects (either good or bad) on employee performance. Glassdoor found that retention rates improved by 82% and productivity increased by 70% when employees had a great onboarding experience.
Remote onboarding doesn’t have to be stale and impersonal! Here are four things we like to keep in mind here at Kin when virtually bringing on a new employee:
Prep your new hire ahead of time
If at all possible, have your new employee complete their onboarding paperwork before their first day. Kin makes this easy with our fully-digital HRIS tool. When you send over the paperwork, include a personalized message that outlines what to expect on Day 1 (meet with HR, meet with accounting, fill out employee profile, post-lunch meet-and-greet with creative, etc.). Let them know what apps need to be on their phone or laptop and provide any relevant how-to instructions.
In addition, schedule out all necessary meetings and give access to the employee’s calendar ahead of time so they know what to expect. The less surprises during the onboarding process, the better! There’s a lot of comfort on your first day opening your calendar to see a fully-planned schedule, including where and when you need to be at x, y and z meeting.
Finally, make sure their equipment arrives before their first day to give them time to set up and familiarize themselves with any new technologies. Ideally, employees should have about three days to set up and explore their new laptop, camera, and whatever else they’ll be working with. Make sure to include an SOS number to call if they help while setting up.
Get the whole team involved
Onboarding is an all-hands-on-deck process. Your new hire shouldn’t feel welcomed only by their manager or HR representative on their first day, but by everyone they’ll be working with.
Prepare your team before the new hire starts, letting them know to shoot over a personal email first thing to welcome their new team member and introduce themselves. Then, follow up with an all-team meeting within a day or two (cameras on!) to put faces to names and communicate relevant information about ongoing projects.
Turn solo conversations into group chats wherever possible to allow the new hire to see how team members interact with you and each other. Since remote work lacks the social cues of a physical office setting, involving a new teammate in these types of interactions (even virtually) can prevent employees from feeling they work in a bubble.
Your new hire should end their first work week confident that they are a full member of your team- no hesitations!
Send a gift
Welcome gifts should be more than a company-branded t-shirt or pre-packaged fruit basket. The more personal a welcome gift can be, the better. It demonstrates your interest in the employee beyond what they contribute to the company and your attention to detail.
Kin’s employee data management tool can be a big help here, capturing crucial biodata and creating customizable fields to collect everything from food allergies to hobbies.
Go back over your interview notes. What state did your new hire grow up in? Where did they graduate college? Do they have a pet? Then, shop accordingly.
If you weren’t the primary interviewer or aren’t sure what your new employee’s interests are, don’t skip a welcome gift! Send along a small succulent for their desk or a personalized set of office stationery. Showing an effort to make them feel appreciated and comfortable will go a long way for their tenure at your company.
Wrap up the week with a non-work related activity
You’ve made it through the week and your new hire is dizzy from all of the new information being thrown their way. It’s time to unwind!
Designate a lunch hour specifically for your team to come together virtually and chat (no work talk allowed!), or set aside a late-afternoon cocktail or coffee break. Interacting with the rest of their coworkers will clue your new employee in to relational dynamics, office culture, and other aspects of the job that can’t be communicated over Slack or email. It also gives them a chance to relax and be themselves outside of their company role.
Don’t put the pressure on your newest hire to carry the conversation. Instead, create a loosely-structured environment where co-workers can blow off steam and talk about their own lives. If the energy is high enough, try some virtual team building exercises. Otherwise, just sit back, relax, and enjoy some organic team bonding.
If you’re looking to simplify your remote onboarding process and make it easy for new employees to feel at home, reach out to us. We’d love to chat about how we can help!